Yesterday, after running an errand in Roseville, Minnesota (which is some distance from our home/work), my husband and I decided to venture to a place in St. Paul we've been wanting to try for some time: Magnolias. http://www.magnolias-stpaul.com/Default.aspx
This is a terrific Roadfood-type destination!
Small, clean, with a choice of tables or booths; friendly waitstaff, huge portions of good food at a fair price.
We got there about 4:30, and easily got a seat, but there were other parties there and the place started doing a brisk take out business starting around 5 p.m. Magnolias is known for its fried chicken (which you can buy by the bucket to go), but because it is fried to order, it takes about 20 minutes. I ordered the 1/4 (white) meal, which comes with a choice of salad or soup (they had a choice of three kinds yesterday), a dinner roll, and choice of potatoes. I chose the homemade mashed potatoes with gravy, but there were many other options. My husband opted for the "special of the day," the roast turkey dinner (from a whole roast turkey) with dressing and cranberry sauce; he had cole slaw for his salad; his meal also came with a dinner roll. We also each drank iced tea (regular, though they also have raspberry iced tea). It comes with one free refill (as do the fountain drinks), which seems a little parsimonious. But it was fine.
To stave off hunger, we ordered deep fried mushrooms. They seemed a little expensive (about $7.50), but when we received the huge portion, we understood the price! They were hot and very good, and we were offered our choice of salad dressing for dipping if we wanted it. Next time, I'd ask for my favorite, cocktail sauce, which I noticed they serve with the two different types of fried shrimp (regular and beer battered) that they offer. If I was there with only one other person, I'd see if they'd do a half order.
The salads and rolls actually arrived before the mushrooms. My husband very much liked his cole slaw; the salad was a fresh "garden" salad with croutons, and the bleu cheese dressing was tasty, with some chunks of cheese in it. The dinner roll was just a roll; fresh, but seemed commercial and it wasn't served warm. It came with small packets of whipped butter. I noticed they serve breakfast all day and one option is baking powder biscuits (either plain or with gravy), so I might ask for a biscuit next time.
The fried chicken was served hot out of the fryer, thoroughly cooked through, and very good. Not spicy, but well-seasoned, with a nice crispy crust. The mashed potatoes were indeed "real" and very good, and the gravy was fine. My husband's portion of turkey was generous, moist, and obviously fresh off-the-bird, and came with a huge mound of homemade stuffing and a small container of cranberry/orange sauce as well as the mashed potatoes and gravy. I'm allergic to oranges, so I couldn't try the cranberry sauce, but everything else was really excellent. He couldn't finish it; we packed it up to take home.
Then it was time for dessert. Magnolias offers a variety of fruit pies, which yesterday included apple, blueberry, cherry, and some others. But the fruit pies aren't homemade. The cream pies are, and are advertised as "made from scratch." I'm not sure what all they had, because as soon as the waitress said "banana cream," I knew that was what I would choose. A nice wedge of pie on a graham cracker crust with a huge mound of real whipped cream on top. The banana filling was stuffed with real banana slices, and it was delicious.
We were in and out in less than an hour, even with the waiting time for the chicken. They have a variety of specials, by the day, by the week, and by the month, and the menu itself has many choices without being ridiculous. One caveat, though -- the take-out menu we picked up said the menu is going to change after August 30. Not sure what that means.
The restaurant is on a small-business oriented street just outside a residential area. We had no trouble parking on the street, which is free for 2 hours before 6 p.m. (and free outside business hours), but I understand they also have a lot within a block or two.
We will be back, and I urge other Roadfooders to consider Magnolias when they are next in the St. Paul area.